Top Ten

December 8, 2015

Canadian postsecondary tuition among the highest in the world, says OECD

According to data in the OECD’s newly released Education at a Glance 2015 report, the cost of Canadian postsecondary tuition is among the highest in the world. The report looked at average annual tuition, adjusted for purchasing power parity, and found that at $4,761 USD, Canada ranked fifth; the UK, US, Japan, and South Korea were the four most expensive countries. Eight countries on the list had an average tuition price of $0. While the report noted that high tuition could discourage students from entering PSE, it also noted that Canada has the highest level of total tertiary education attainment. In a recent article for the Academica Forum, Andrew Parkin questioned this narrative, showing that Canada still has room for improvement in educational attainment. Huffington Post | Full Study

COTR, UVic sign two partnership agreements

The College of the Rockies has signed two agreements with the University of Victoria, one on dual admission and the other on guaranteed admission. Under dual admission, eligible high school students can apply for admission to both institutions and be guaranteed a spot at UVic after two years at COTR. Under guaranteed admission, eligible current COTR students are guaranteed a place in selected UVic degree programs. “At College of the Rockies, we recognize that each student has their own path to follow when pursuing postsecondary education, and we are committed to creating new opportunities for students in the East Kootenay region to reach their goals,” said COTR President David Walls. COTR

Nearly-free university gives students an opportunity

The University of the People is allegedly the world’s first non-profit, near-tuition-free, accredited online university, and according to Barbara Balfour in the Globe and Mail, this institution is changing lives. More than 2,000 students representing over 150 countries are enrolled in the university, which offers bachelor degrees in areas such as business administration and computer science. The institution is staffed and advised by volunteer professors around the world. “The high quality of the education is very compelling,” says John Gerzema, of the business administration advisory board, “it’s as if the world’s best universities are volunteering to teach the world’s most eager students.” Globe and Mail | UoPeople (Mission Statement)

Debate over soft-drinks, sugar industry spreads to Canadian researchers

A small group of university-based researchers in Canada has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from soft-drink makers, packaged-food trade associations, and the sugar industry, reports the National Post. The article goes on to argue that the research produced by these scientists often results in studies and opinion articles that agree with the general business interests of those companies. Citing a Spanish study from 2013, the Post reports that while only 17% of company-supported research has found a link between sugary beverages and body weight, more than 80% of research performed without such funding has found such a link.  National Post

Digital age brings opportunities in virtual internships and collective intelligence problem-solving

Diana Oblinger, president emeritus of Educause, explains that technology is changing the opportunities available in postsecondary teaching and learning. She argues that postsecondary institutions can define higher education in the connected age by integrating the digital world with the physical world. She concludes that “learning is what our institutions do first and foremost and in the connected age we can connect with each other, we can have interactive experiences, deeper and richer experiences, such as games-based learning environments, simulations and transnational exchanges with people.” Vancouver Sun

Canada’s correctional system provides education opportunities to inmates

More than three thousand inmates in Canada’s federal correctional institutions are currently participating in an educational program, according to Ian MacAlpine writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard. Michael Reid is one inmate who earned his high school diploma in prison and began taking business courses from Northern College in 2009. “I used to make decisions without even thinking. But now, with an education, I just look at life in a different perspective,” he said. However, it is becoming more difficult for inmates to earn college credentials and “virtually impossible” to earn a university degree, as access to the internet is considered a security violation. “That day will come where there’s a computer station and that guys can only log into the University of Toronto or Humber College or wherever he’s going,” said Lee McNaughton, who has taught at the Collins Bay institution for 16 years. Kingston Whig-Standard

New QC bill threatens freedom of speech on campuses and beyond, writes National Post

“Freedom of speech is already in grave peril on university campuses,” writes the National Post, adding that there is little reason to expect that it will improve any time soon. The piece reflects on Quebec’s Bill 59, which would give the Quebec Human Rights Commission new powers to combat any form of expression that promotes “fear of the other.” The bill will reportedly allow the QHRC to take legal action against any public expression of speech deemed to fit under its definition of hate speech, regardless of whether there has been a public complaint. The article goes on to note that the new President of the University of Ottawa, Jacques Frémont, has been the driving force behind the bill as the President of the QHRC. The article quotes Frémont announcing his intention to use the bill against “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page,” concluding that the passing of such a bill is evidence of an increasing crackdown of freedom of speech throughout Canada and on its campuses. National Post

University must revisit contract teaching system, argues op-ed

Habitual use of part-time contract lecturers by universities is taking its toll, argues Rachel Brighton in the Chronicle Herald. She cites the example of one such instructor, Jennifer Miller, who “quit in frustration” after 15 years of short-term contracts. The pressure created by the use of temporary contracts is “making smart people sick,” according to Miller. Karen Foster, an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University, is conducting a survey of contract instructors across Nova Scotia, and she argues that they are “not getting equal pay for equal work, and that’s the moral wrong that’s really driving the research.” Academica Group is currently working with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario on a similar study in Ontario, with results to be published early next year. Chronicle Herald

CHE releases compensation data for US private college presidents

The Chronicle of Higher Education has released an analysis of the salaries earned by US private college presidents in 2013, finding that 32 individuals received more than $1 M. The schools with the highest-paid presidents included Columbia University ($4.6 M), University of Pennsylvania ($3 M), and High Point University ($2.9 M). The study also found that presidents routinely received additional forms of deferred compensation exceeding $1 M. When interviewed about these numbers, several administrators suggested that the size of a president’s compensation should be in proportion to the size of an institution’s ambitions for the future.  Chronicle of Higher Education | TIME | Report

Significant number of community college students face homelessness, food insecurity

A significant population of community college students in the US is reporting high levels of food and housing insecurity, according to a new study released last Friday. 13% of respondents reported experiencing some form of homelessness while attending community college, and more than 50% reported some level of food insecurity. In a New York Times op-ed about the study’s results, co-authors Sara Goldrick-Rab and Katharine Broton wrote that, “such high rates of food and housing insecurity among hardworking college students indicate that the nation faces a serious crisis.” On Saturday, the New York Times also ran an article reporting on how colleges are financing their growing demands for capital projects by increasing the cost of student meal plans, thus exacerbating students’ challenges with food security. Inside Higher Ed | Report | New York Times (Op-ed) | New York Times (Meal Plan Costs) | Cap Times